The Pact

Before I get into this one, if you haven’t read it and are thinking about it, you should know it’s horribly depressing. It is still a good read and all that, but horribly depressing. 


Ok. So, The Pact. My first Jodi Picoult experience! While in the airport on my way to Florida with the team the girls and I were talking about good books and someone recommended Jodi Picoult. I’d heard good things before, so I decided to give it a whirl. There was quite a selection in the library of Picoult books, and The Pact had “Soon to be a Lifetime Original Movie” on it, so I figured it had to be good!

And here’s the disclaimer, if you haven’t read it and are planning to, read no further! Though there’s not too much shock value to this one…

So page one, here we are, what is going on!? There’s a gun shot and we’re not quite sure what’s happened. Though over the next few pages we get a little history of the Gold and Harte families it becomes abundantly clear that Emily Gold has been shot and killed. The only remaining question was why? Suicide? Murder? And how is Chris Harte, her boyfriend, involved? Chris is taken to the hospital along with Emily (who is pronounced dead) because he was found suffering from a head wound at the scene. The book jumps back and forth between “now” and “then” to describe both the history of the two families and Emily and Chris’ relationship as well as what happens in the aftermath of Emily’s death. Chris is suspected of murder and the reader spends the whole book trying to decipher the truth along with the jury: did he shoot her or did she shoot herself?

I did really enjoy the format of the story. The flashbacks were very vivid and really helped illustrate Chris and Emily’s relationship to the point where I really felt like I knew them both. The details about their family only filled out my images of them. Very nice.

What I didn’t like was the over-dramatic way Picoult handled her characters towards the end. My roommate told me she found Picoult to me a little heavy-handed with the drama and I have to say I agree.

Emily Gold, we come to find out, was sexually assaulted at the age of nine in a bathroom at McDonalds. This horrible experience (which she told no one about) stays with her as she comes to be in a relationship with Chris. As their relationship advances sexually, Emily struggles with her past and trying to make Chris happy. It sounds horribly miserable for her. Here’s part one of why I don’t like this. This one horrible incident in Emily’s past really comes to be the defining point of her life as her problems stem from there. If she had never been abused she would never had problems with people touching her and wouldn’t have been so messed up…more on that…

So, Emily suffers through a sexual relationship with Chris because she really does love him and the poor kid is going nuts. She ends up pregnant but tells no one. She ventures to Planned Parenthood and seeks an abortion, but when the moment comes, she can’t face the doctor touching her. Going back again to the time she was sexually assaulted! If that had never happened she would have been able to get the abortion and none of what followed would have even happened!! Note, not that I’m condoning abortion, but given the alternative Emily comes up with…

So, unable to face abortion, unable to face disappointing her parents and Chris and changing the course of her life, Emily decides to kill herself. KILL HERSELF!? Here’s where I get annoyed. Because she tells Chris she has some horrible secret that’s tearing her apart and she wants to die because she can’t live with it.

Chris goes through a lot of phases. Denial, trying to reason with her, deciding to play along, agreeing to commit suicide as well in order to be there and try to stop her when she does try to kill herself…he decides he wants to play the hero and doesn’t tell anyone about Emily’s suicidal plans. OK WHAT?! The love of your life tells you she’s suicidal and your instinct is to want to play the hero and take the risk of messing up!? Chris thinks about telling someone but decides against it. I don’t believe that. If he loved her, he would have told someone as soon as he realized she was serious, which she was.

So then the time comes and Chris acts like he’s going to kill himself after she does, and she holds up the gun to her head and he yanks it away and tries to stop her. She freaks out, he runs away and listens for a shot, which he doesn’t hear. So he goes back to her and finds out she can’t do it herself so she asks HIM to do it.

Again, WHAT?! I can’t bring myself to understand the rationality that Chris has for deciding to shoot his girlfriend in the head and kill her. And Picoult tries to make us understand, she really does. Oh, she’s suffering, she can’t bear to live with this secret, and he’s suffering because she is. It would be selfish of him to keep her alive when she so badly wants to die. He knows she’ll just try again if he doesn’t help her. Save it. I don’t buy any of it.

Your girlfriend tells you she has some horrible secret she wants to kill herself over? You get help, you tell an adult. Certainly being pregnant is not worth killing yourself over! Yes her parents would have freaked and her life plans would have changed, but at least she would have a life!!

And, as Chris realizes as he’s sitting by himself after the trial (they find him not guilty by the way), he realizes that Emily asking him to kill her was the most selfish thing she’s ever done. Seriously! I mean I know they grew up together and were practically inseparable, but I get the feeling Emily did not care about Chris even half as much as he cared about her. He’s better off without her, if she’s going to be such a psychopath, though obviously she needn’t have died!!

Anyway, that’s my assessment. Still a good read, I might try another Picoult in the future. Any good ones?

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About MMM

Resolving to write in 2011!
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2 Responses to The Pact

  1. twindaddy says:

    When you’re actually confronted by a suicidal person all logic goes out the window. It’s easy to sit back and say what you should have done and believe me I’ve second-guessed my actions several times since then. But on the occasion that I was actually there when somebody attempted suicide, of all the options I had available to me as a young man, all I could do was cry. Calling 911 never occurred to me. Calling her parents never occurred to me. Having her committed never occurred to me. The only thing I could think of was that she was going to be dead soon and that paralyzed me. I couldn’t act. All I could do was lay next to her and cry.

    Luckily, that person survived, but it took me many, many years to realize how selfish she was and to come to grips with how I felt about it.

    I imagine to someone who’s never experienced someone right in front of them trying to end their life that the actions of Chris would seem stupid. But until you’re put into that situation you have no idea what you’ll do or how you’ll react.

    • MMM says:

      Thank you for your courage…sharing insight into what that horrible experience must be like, You are right, I simply cannot imagine being in a situation like that. I imagine being confronted with the suicide attempt of someone you care deeply about would be horrifying and paralyzing as you said…

      Your comment brought me more understanding than any of Picoult’s writing about Chris, thank you.

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